This is “Part 2” of a three part product review on the new G. Loomis Steelhead Series rods.
Before testing the first rod, just inspecting them was very satisfying. Extremely light and very well balanced. I can’t wait to hit the water.
The Rod: STR1163s – 9′ 8″ rated for 6 – 12lbs. As stated in “Part 1” the claim is this rod can handle bigger water with modern techniques for steelhead, but is also great for coho, chum, and even chinook. I was able to fish for all four species and put this rod to the most rigorous of testing, exposed it to the elements, and by many accounts simply abused this rod. The following are the results.
Where: Skagit River
When: November 1, 2007
I paired the STR1163s with a Shimano Symetre 2500 loaded with 12lb test hi-vis Izorline.
We started out fishing the mighty Skagit river tossing #5 Vibrax spinners into area’s that had lots of wood. Right away it was apparent that I was going to like this rod. Accurate casts were a must as we were hitting small pockets surrounded by lots of grabby wood. An “off” cast would surely be cause to tie on a new spinner. The 9′ 8″ length was a definite plus as cast after cast hit it’s target. There was no wobble effect after the spinner hit the water and it felt good in my hand.
Retrieving the spinner it was amazing to feel just how sensitive these rods are. You can actually feel every turn of the blade as I slowly wound the spinner in waiting for a mammoth strike.
When the strike did come, I reefed back to set the hook and it was solid. The rod had plenty of backbone and you could feel the sure tell sign of a coho as it was twisting and shaking it’s head fiercely trying to get loose.
Most of the coho we hooked on this trip were 4 to 8lbs and the rod handled these with ease.
Coho – Check!
Species: Coho, Chinook
Where: Humptulips River
When: November 6, 2007
Technique: Float and Eggs
Now came the real test… Chinook! And I’m not talking about 12 to 15lb Chinook, I’m talking Humptulips River Chinook where the average is around 20lbs and there are many in the 30 – 40lb class.
Before setting off, I called Mike Perusse of Loomis and said, “Mike, are you really sure you want me to use the 1163 for Chinook?”
“Absolutely” said Perusse, “We really want you to put it to the test and let us know what you think”.
Well, if the boss says to do it, let’s do it!
My first obstacle was convincing Phil Stephens of Mystical Legends Guide Service to let me use this rod. Upon feeling how light the rod was, he looked at me, smiled, and said “you can go ahead and put that rod away”.
So we started off fishing with the normal setup of rods rated 10 – 20lbs, baitcasters loaded with 40lb Power Pro and 30lb mono leader.
After a while we got into a “mess” of chrome bright fish, both coho and chinook. Just after landing a double header of extremely nice coho that were 10 – 12lbs, Phil said, “Hey, where’s that steelhead rod?”.
I had it paired with the same Shimano Symetre as mentioned above, but switched to 20lb Power Pro with 15lb mono leader.
After a couple misses, all of a sudden I hear “Oh, Sh*t!”.
This was no coho, it was a big ol’ fat chinook that wanted to stick to the bottom.
What a hoot! I’ve never seen Phil laugh so hard as it was back and forth with this fish for several minutes. Phil would gain on it then back down to the bottom of the hole with the drag screaming on the reel. The whole time though the rod was doing it’s job.
The gorgeous fish finally knew it lost the battle and came to shore. A quick release, a little revival in the current and he was on his way. A solid 25lb plus fish that will continue it’s journey to spawn.
Now if that wasn’t a true test of the rod I don’t know what is. Phil flat out “puts the wood” to the fish and he didn’t give this rod a break at all. The drag on the reel was tightened down and several times he had to “cup” the reel to help slow the fish down. The rod performed flawlessly! Talking about backbone!
So after this nice display and a few high fives it was time to put the rod back away, right? Heck no… he did it again on the very next cast! Again a chinook, again laughing the whole time, again he won.
We ended up catching two chinook and a couple coho up to 15lbs with this rod on another spectacular day fishing the Humptulips.
Chinook – Check!
Where: Green River (King County)
When: November 17 & 24, 2007
Technique: Drift Fishing
One of my favorite fisheries to just flat out catch fish until your arms are sore. For those of you that have fished for chum, you know they are one of the nastiest fighting, pound for pound toughest fish in the river. When they’re in it’s usually multiple hookups and massive rod bending drag peeling fights! Speaking of rod bending, look at the pic below. This test was so much fun I had to fish for them again the following weekend.
For this test I leave the same reel setup as used for chinook above but drift fishing instead of bobber and eggs.
Using pencil lead, I could feel every little tick on the bottom as my presentation gently swept through the hole. When a fish grabbed it, there was no doubt and I set the hook to let him know he’d been hooked.
I started out using a Dick Nite spoon and after a few cast’s I’m quick to hook up. Fishing with Ron Harrington, after landing the first of what would be many, he said “Well, that rod had no problems with that fish, that’s for sure”.
And throughout the day it was the same way. Whether with the Dick Nite or when we switched to corky and yarn, we both had plenty of fish and I was able to handle all the chum that picked a fight.
Oh, the reel was singing and the rod was a bending, but I never felt that I had a rod that couldn’t handle the job. What a blast!
The next weekend we were back at it, this time in the pontoon boats so we could get to some holes and have them to ourselves. Again the rod performed flawlessly and showed ultra sensitivity and massive power when needed to turn one of these bad boys around.
Chum – Check!
Where: Snoqualmie River
When: November 25, 2007
Technique: Float and Jig
Ah steelhead… that’s what it’s all about anyway isn’t it? We hit the Snoqualmie River to put the STR 1163s to it’s final test on this little journey. The question wasn’t whether the rod could handle a steelhead having already tackled three other species, the question was could we make it four species on the same rod all within a month?
The river was running low and clear so I figured our best bet was to go with my favorite technique for steelhead, float and jig. Now G. Loomis states that the 1163 is a good “big water” steelhead rod, but you can drop down to lighter baits and spinners. We’ll, we’re dropping down to a 1/8oz jig and a Thill 1/8oz float. I can’t get much lighter than that.
The morning started out fantastic! First cast and bobber down. It was a hatchery fish but both my fishing partner and myself noticed it had a little color to it. We’re thinking this is a really late summer run and it’s on it’s way after a quick pic (above).
What I noticed first about the rod in this situation was the ability to cast such a light presentation with ease. It took an accurate cast to hit the very skinny slot I was aiming for and it didn’t let me down. Fighting the fish was a blast as always. Although this rod carries with it a great backbone, it’s also super light and sensitive and I could feel the fishes every move to try and avoid coming to shore.
I generally fish a 10′ 6″ rod when using this technique, but the 9′ 8″ stature of this rod was more than ample for the conditions we were in, and casting to small pockets of water proved to be a good fit for this rod.
We fished for the next few hours with nothing to show. We’re there I’d say a week early or another good rain, but there are a few fish and even some coho still coming through.
My buddy gets a good takedown but it doesn’t stick. I follow through the same hole with my jig presentation and manage to hook up again. A nice hatchery brat that we decided to go ahead and take home although it also had the rosy cheeks and a little color. Another week and the chromers are sure to arrive.
Steelhead – Check!
As you can tell by the reports above, I thoroughly tested, used and abused this rod and it not only met the challenge but exceeded my expectations by a long shot. If you’re looking for an “all around” great rod for multiple species and using multiple techniques you cannot go wrong with the STR 1163s. It’s super light, super sensitive, and super powerful. What a rod!
Fishin for Brats!
G. Loomis Steelhead Series Rods Part 3
by Terry Wiest
This is “Part 3” of a three part product review on the new G. Loomis Steelhead Series rods.
Having already tested the extremely impressive STR1163s, I couldn’t wait to get the new STR1044s into some action to see if it too would hold up to the ultra high standards of a G. Loomis rod.
The Rod: STR1044s – 8′ 8″ rated for 8 – 12lbs. As stated in “Part 1” the claim is this rod may be Loomis’ best all-around steelhead rod. This is a great choice for fishing small to medium-sized rivers. A surprisingly strong rod that casts with precision and provides the strength to work the fish, even when some brute suddenly decides to spend one more year in the salt.
Let’s see how it did.
REEL: Shimano Stradic 2500
LINE: Sufix 12lb mono in moss green
LEADER: 8lb Maxima UltraGreen
BAIT/LURES: Eggs, SandShrimp, Pink Worms
Dang, nothing like starting out the day with a C-H-R-O-M-E bright steelhead at very first light. I hadn’t even really got to feel how sensitive this rod is as it was, tick, tick, tick along the bottom and then I felt the sponge-like sensation knowing a fish had picked up my presentation. A quick hookset and it was fish on. After a short little battle I was able to glide the nice little hen to shore with ease.
Now I can take the sticker off the rod!
I’ve been fishing longer rods in recent years and have stuck primarily with baitcasters for drift fishing. This day would be quite different, but puts another dimension to my arsenal.
At 8′ 8″ this rod does come in 2 inches longer than the traditional 8′ 6″ rods most of us over the age of 30 grew up with. That extra 2 inches does give an advantage when it comes to accurate casting. Where the “shortness” of the rod proved it’s worthiness is when we were fishing with NO bank behind us and nothing but tackle grabbing tree limbs reaching out to us on every cast. It was easy to “flip” the presentation rather than taking a full backswing.
What’s really impressive is how darn light this rod is. If you didn’t know you were steelhead fishing you’d swear you had an ultralight trout rod in you hand. You can fish this rod all day, and I did, and never get tired of casting it. When you do hook up, it’s as if it were just you and the fish, no extra weight. Believe me this rod has plenty of power, but it doesn’t come from any bulk weight or extra material, this new material G. Loomis has come out with is a winner!
Sensitivity of course is as important a factor as any when it comes to a fine drift rod. Again, this new material flat out rocks! It’s as if everything at the end of the line is telegraphed through the tip of the rod all the way through the butt section. I fish with the butt running along my forearm throughout the drift. The rod then acts like an extension of my arm and I can feel everything from the bottom, to those very subtle pickups. Of course I did get hammered a couple times too and with the rod in this position it’s easy to set the hook quick and with power.
Where this rod will excel is in smaller streams and even some mid sized ones. Hmmm, seems as though G. Loomis hit this one on the bullseye. It’s light, easy to cast, sensitive, has plenty of power, and allows you to cast all day without your arms becoming fatigued.
In conclusion, simply put G. Loomis has exceeded all my expectations with the new Steelhead Series rods and I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase any of them. With the STR1163s and the STR1044s I basically have all my bases covered with just two rods. Multiple techniques, multiple species and two of the finest sticks on the market.
I can’t wait to see if G. Loomis will expand this new rod material to their float rods and some salmon rods as well. Try one, you’ll agree.